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Popular French River Cruises for Barge Lovers

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French river cruises are a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the country’s way of life. Meandering leisurely along its ancient waterways gives you an insight into a part of France not seen by those using other forms of transport. Take a tour of rivers, such as the beautiful Cher in central France or Saône in the east, and you’ll discover the rich history, beautiful landscape and rural lifestyle which make this country so unique.

Discovering the Saône

The Saône, in eastern France, has its source close to Vioménil, to the south of Épinal in the Lorraine region. Flowing south for around 300 miles much of its course has been canalised and today includes around 30 locks. It eventually joins the Rhône at the French city of gastronomy, Lyon. A journey along its route will take travellers past the historic towns of Chalon-sur-Saône, Mâcon and Villefranche.

French river cruises along this river usually include a leisurely tour of the Bourgogne region through which it passes. By joining the Rhône at Lyon, many cruises travel from Chalon-sur-Saône to as far south as Avignon or Arles. Guests taking a cruise here can explore the famous Beaujolais, Burgundy and even Côte de Rhône vineyards and sample some of the excellent wines produced in these wine-growing regions. In order to explore this wonderful landscape fully, many French river cruises will provide bicycles to guests for local touring so that you can independently discover the beautiful countryside and towns where the boats make their stops.

Exploring the Cher

The Cher is a 217-mile-long tributary of the Loire which has its source in the north of the Massif Central; it then flows down to the Cobrailles Plateau and on through the woodlands around Bourges. At Chenonceaux it is crossed by the 16th-century Château de Chenonceau. Renaissance architects created a bridge which included a covered gallery which literally spans the entire river and is well worth a visit. South of Tours the Cher joins the Loire at Cinq-Mars-la-Pile. The basin of the Cher is 5,400 square miles and takes in some of France’s most beautiful and historic landscapes.

French river cruises travelling the Cher are often combined with tours of the Loire Valley. There is a wonderful range of eclectic sights to see on a cruise through this region from the stunning Châteaux de Chenonceau, d’Amboise and du Clos Lucé to the Troglodyte cave dwellings. Wine tastings provide a fascinating opportunity to find out more about the famous winemaking process used in the region. Visiting the plethora of vibrant street markets along the river’s course will give you a taste of how people really live here.

French river cruises provide the perfect opportunity to see more of France from an entirely new perspective, that of its peaceful, ancient waterways. Explore the towns and villages and historic buildings which have grown up along these natural trade routes and see the history and rich culture of France laid out before your eyes as you relax on board your river cruise.
About author: Desiree Michels

Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury river cruises and barge holidays throughout Europe. If you're looking for the most exciting French river cruises European Waterways is an ideal choice. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.

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